I entered into womanhood in the age of Carrie Bradshaw. Not just her, but Charlotte and Miranda and Samantha (or, as we’ll call her in 2022, She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named). I graduated from college in May 1999 and when I got back home to New York, all anyone could talk about was the ladies of Sex and the City. And soon, when I could finally afford cable, it was all I could talk about too.
But it was more than just talk. In those days, I felt that I was walking in proximity to these slightly older women. They led lives that I imagined I might soon attain. I went to B Bar on the Bowery; they went to B Bar. They wore Manolos; I wore Manolos (that I absolutely could not afford.) We all drank terrible, terrible variations on a classic martini that should just not exist, let alone be offered for a discount at happy hour. And, of course, they almost had it all, but not exactly. And I, starting out in the world, had barely anything but felt everything was within my grasp. Our lives, like our city, were deeply imperfect but brimming with possibilities.
So like many people, despite my trepidations about the relevance of SATC in 2022 New York, I dutifully tuned in to watch the HBO Max reboot And Just Like That… It is a show that has me, and many other viewers, both perplexed and mesmerized. It is not a good show, nor is it a bad show; it’s a curiosity. It’s a little like a face that has had just a tad too much work done: You can’t stop looking at it, but largely to figure out what, exactly, has happened here to make it feel so unnatural.
The attempts to “put a finger” on what’s going on with And Just Like That… have occupied the zeitgeist. The commentary has mainly focused on the series’s strange relationship to reality across the board, from the pandemic to “wokeness” to aging to what to do when one finds a loved one experiencing cardiac arrest.
To be fair, Sex and the City was never a show grounded in realism. It was a show grounded in aspiration, one that put a rosy lens on New York, even in its darkest moments. (I will never forget the Fleet Week episode that brought the show back after 9/11.) It was a flattering mirror that reflected back to us a more sparkling version of the city that we really were.